Taliban kills three soldiers at army HQ in northern Afghanistan

Afghan national Army (ANA) troops keep watch near the site of an ongoing attack on an army headquarters in Mazar-i-Sharif
Afghan national Army (ANA) troops keep watch near the site of an ongoing attack on an army headquarters in Mazar-i-Sharif, northern Afghanistan April 21, 2017. REUTERS/Anil Usyan

April 21, 2017

By Abdul Matin

MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan (Reuters) – At least three Afghan army soldiers were killed and several wounded on Friday when Taliban gunmen attacked a military headquarters in northern Afghanistan, officials said.

The attack occurred near a mosque on the base in Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of Balkh province, as soldiers were leaving Friday prayers, according to an army officer who asked not to be named as he was not authorized to speak publicly.

The Western-backed Afghan government is locked in a prolonged war with Taliban insurgents as well as other militant groups.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the fighters set off an explosion, allowing suicide bombers armed with small arms to breach the base.

“Our fighters have inflicted heavy casualties on the Afghan army stationed there,” he said.

Another army officer reported that the attackers used military uniforms and vehicles to pass through three checkpoints before launching their attack.

The base is the headquarters for the Afghan National Army’s 209th Corps, which covers most of northern Afghanistan, including Kunduz province where there has been heavy fighting recently.

A number of German and other foreign soldiers are based in Mazar-i-Sharif, including about 70 who advise the corps headquarters as part of a NATO-led multinational mission to advise and train the Afghan security forces.

German military says no German or international troops were involved in the attack.

“To our knowledge, no Germans were affected. Nor were any other soldiers in the multinational force harmed,” said a spokesman for the German Operations Command.

(Additional reporting by Sabine Siebold in Berlin; Writing by Josh Smith; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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